Those who scoffed at the notion that the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last week against Aereo was written too narrowly to affect other media technologies have been proven right--Fox is using the precedent in its two-year-old battle with Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) and its Hopper DVR.
(Image source: Dish)
Within hours of the June 25 ruling against Aereo, Fox attorney Richard Stone wrote a federal judge, explaining that the Supreme Court verdict also rendered illegal a Hopper feature that lets users port broadcast network content to IP devices.
"In Aereo, the Supreme Court held that Aereo's unauthorized retransmission of Fox's television programming over the Internet constitutes an unauthorized public performance of Fox's copyrighted works," Stone writes. "Dish, which engages in virtually identical conduct when it is streaming Fox's programming to Dish subscribers over the Internet--albeit also in violation of an express contractual prohibition--has repeatedly raised the same defenses as Aereo which have now been rejected by the Supreme Court."
Of course, one key differentiator between Dish Network and Aereo is that the former is actually paying a license fee for broadcast content. And while the High Court has ruled that Aereo's technology constitutes a "public performance," Dish has argued that subscribers moving content from one device to another is a private one.
"Customers pay for the right to receive works, with Fox's authorization, and do receive them at home before sending them to themselves," Dish wrote to the Ninth Circuit Court in San Francisco in response to Fox's filing.
Meanwhile, as some technologies appear challenged by the new ruling, others are emboldened. Syncbak, for example, is an Iowa-based technology company that's backed by CBS, the National Association of Broadcasters and the Consumer Electronics Association. It sells technology to broadcast stations that allow them to stream their signals.
About 150 stations use the technology, but many more were reluctant to invest in Syncbak when it appeared that Aereo might prevail.
"With this decision behind us, you'll see movement accelerate over the next few months," Syncbak's technology, company founder and CEO Jack Perry told Deadline Hollywood.
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